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12 April 2015 - Don’t Believe Everything You Read

When I was growing up there was no internet that I could turn to for an answer to any question that I might have. But as times and technologies change, we change and adapt. Today I use the internet a lot for my writing, radio and TV work. Yet, there is one thing about the internet that really bothers me. That’s the fact that anyone can put anything on the internet, and someone will read it and believe it, whether or not it is backed by science, research or fact.

As an example, I want to share with you some text from a recent article on the internet that confirms, I think, my concern.

“Imagine if the price you paid for a hamburger included factors such as heart disease, the number one cause of deaths worldwide; or the runoff of manure spread on fields from concentrated animal feeding operations; or injuries to workers in slaughterhouses and processing plants; or the poor animal welfare practices in livestock operations.” Then in bold print, the statement . . . “It would certainly be more than the 99-cent hamburger and would not be part of the value menu.”

The author concludes her argument by discussing the economics of the environmental degradation caused by agriculture, estimated by her at $2-to-5-trillion per year. She offered no information on who did the scientific research, or how it was conducted to determine that wide range. But you know that people will read it on the internet and believe it. I am not one of those people.

You could apply the same thinking to nearly any industry; truck and automobile manufacturing; the airlines and railroads; home construction; oil and energy; and manufacturing of any kind. They all cause environmental degradation. There are injuries and deaths in every industry. If we added all those factors into the price, airline tickets, refrigerators, automobiles, tractors, gasoline and every other product would cost a lot more and never be on the “value menu”.

Now back to my original concern about the internet. People are reading the article and sending me e-mails and calling me with thoughts like this in a recent phone call from a Chicago lady... “Mr. Samuelson, how can you continue to support and speak kindly of these horrible farmers and ranchers who are mistreating the environment, mistreating animals and then profiting from all of that” . I asked if she had checked the facts, she hadn’t, and then told her I had research and facts that prove we have the safest, most economical food supply of any country on the planet.

Remember that when you read articles without proven facts on the internet.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.